La Sportiva has been making high-quality footwear since long before my time. My first pair of climbing shoes, bought almost 20 years ago, are still with me today and have endured thousands of feet of climbing and multiple resoles. When the 75th Ranger Regiment changed their footwear standards and La Sportiva boots were added to the list, I knew my money would be well spent.
La Sportiva’s addition of running footwear, following their long history of making mountaineering, climbing, and hiking footwear, has been very well received. These shoes are worn by some of the best mountain runners in the world. The La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Running Shoes are Sportiva’s most cushioned trail runners, and you know your feet will stay protected and comfortable as soon as you slip them on.
Specs & features
Sizing: The La Sportiva Wildcats, along with all La Sportiva footwear, use European sizing and come in 38.0 – 47.5 EU. I normally wear a size 11 or 44.5, but I’ll wear a 45 in most of La Sportiva’s footwear with exception to their climbing shoes, which are sized down. As with any footwear, I recommend trying them on and seeing how they feel, but if you do choose to pull the trigger and purchase them before trying them on, I would recommend getting a 1/2 (EU) larger size than you’d normally purchase.
Weight: 12.37 oz / 328 g per shoe. These are definitely not the lightest trail runners on the market, but with the extra protection and comfort they offer, I find the extra couple ounces completely worth it.
Upper: The upper of the La Sportiva Wildcats is an AirMesh fabric that’s very breathable and durable. Even during long days and warmer temperatures, my feet have stayed cool with very little moisture buildup. The toe-cap and support cage around the heel helps this shoe stand up to all kinds of abuse. After multiple accidental toe strikes against rocks, the toe still looks almost brand new. I find the reinforced toe to be one of the better features, as this is where running shoes and boots tend to have the stitching or material fail.
One of the most miserable things that can happen when running or hiking is a ‘hitch hiker’ jumping into your shoe and stabbing or rubbing your foot raw. The tongue of the La Sportiva Wildcat has a mesh cover that prevents trail debris from entering the shoe around the tongue. Throw on a short gaiter in really nasty terrain or in an area with a high concentration of sticker bushes, and you’ll be good to go.
Outsole: The sole is made from FriXion. FriXion is an injection-molded sticky rubber that provides great traction on a variety of surfaces. Living in Western Oregon has provided the opportunity to use these on a lot of wet and sloppy trails. Once fall hits, most of our trails don’t dry out until summer. The traction lugs on the sole are aggressive enough to dig into slippery, wet trails, but not so aggressive that you can’t take these on the road without feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
Fit and comfort
As La Sportiva’s most cushioned running shoe, these provide a lot of comfort and protection from jagged rocks and uneven terrain. The toe-box is wide but not sloppy, and allows my feet to spread out evenly without hotspots or rubbing. Whether I’m running to the store, taking my daughter for a walk, running steep trails, or out for a day-hike, these have become my go-to based on comfort alone.
- Running or hiking moderate to aggressive terrain
- Perfect for individuals who prefer a low-profile shoe for hiking
- This shoe has become very popular for AT (Appalachian Trial) Thru-Hikers.
- Sole Protection
- Reinforced toe-cap
- Tongue guard
- Generously vented
- Comes in a GORE-TEX option
- On the heavy side
- The 12mm heel-to-toe drop may be larger than some prefer. Most of my other running shoes are 0-6mm drop, but so far, I haven’t had any issues with the La Sportiva Wildcat.
When it comes to overall comfort, protection, and traction, I haven’t worn many shoes that come close to doing all three as well as the La Sportiva Wildcat. If you are looking for a low-profile hiker or a shoe that can withstand runs on rocky, rough terrain, head down to your local La Sportiva dealer and try on a pair. If you own a pair of these, please let us know how they work for you.